- GOP nomination – In a new CNN poll conducted over the 9/11 weekend, Texas Gov. Rick Perry remains at the top of the Republican nomination battle by 30 percent to 18 percent for Mitt Romney, 15 percent for Sarah Palin and 12 percent for Ron Paul (R-Tex.). The Republican debate held last Wednesday – the first national appearance for Perry in a moderated setting – didn’t change the dynamics of the race. He garners the same level of support as he did in CNN polling from two weeks previous. As reported in last week’s Post-ABC poll, Perry’s strongest suit in the CNN poll is the perception that he is the most electable of the GOP field. But he also is viewed as the strongest leader, most likely to help the economy and closest on the issues.

Romney got a bit of good news Monday morning with the announcement that former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty is endorsing his candidacy. But there is little prospect for an immediate lift in the polls from this news; Pawlenty was polling in the low single digits nationally before he dropped from the race after a lackluster performance in the Iowa straw poll.

- Obama’s week in approval – President Obama suffered another tough week of national approval ratings, running in the low to mid-40s and setting new low points in several polls. The 43 percent approval in last week’s Washington Post-ABC News poll set a new low for the president, as did his 44 percent rating in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The Battleground poll from George Washington University among likely voters pegged his approval at 45 percent, matching a low, and he is at 44 percent among registered voters in a Fox News poll. Gallup’s daily tracking polls ran in the low 40s for Obama all week, but that’s ticked up from the sub-40s the previous week in tracking.

- The Anthony Weiner seat – Tuesday’s special election for New York’s 9th Congressional District seat vacated by Anthony Weiner (D) finds a close race in polling among likely voters from Siena College. Republican Robert Turner edges ahead of Democrat David Weprin by 50 to 44 percent in this largely Democratic district in the poll released Friday. Turner is winning among independents by better than 2 to 1. But Weprin’s bigger problem might be the weakness in his base; he is winning among Democrats by just 63 to 32 percent. Turner is locking down his base of Republicans, winning 90 percent of them. Special elections are difficult to poll accurately due to low turnout and the challenges of modeling a likely electorate.

- Interracial marriage – Nearly nine in 10 Americans approve of interracial marriage, gaining increasingly high support over the past two decades in Gallup polling. The data released Monday morning finds 86 percent approving of “marriage between blacks and whites.” That’s a complete reversal from the first time the question was asked by Gallup in 1958, when 94 percent disapproved. Half or more disapproved up through 1983. In the early 1990s more approved than disapproved, but still fewer than half approved. Not until 1997 did a strong majority emerge in favor of interracial marriage.

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